A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1
Innovation is not only important where mechanics are concerned, but also in terms of design. Back in 1994, when this timepiece was introduced to the world’s press on October 24, a shockwave went through the watch industry. Not only had one of the most illustrious historical brands been resuscitated (never mind all it took to get to that point), but the sheer audacity of the off-centre displays – which had little to no historical precedence for A. Lange & Söhne – was enough to take a collector’s breath away. The eccentric design cleaned up the dial to make for superb balance of the two subdials, while the power reserve hand and the date window were punctuated by said date window: even though this large rectangle with a mullion should not have by rights been able to find well-designed room here, it did.
Now let’s talk about that date. This was the modern era’s first large date (Lange calls it the “outsize” date), and almost 20 years later (next year, in fact, will be the 20th anniversary) it is nearly impossible to remember what kind of craze the emergence of this date window triggered. Frankly, practically every major brand decided to develop or “get” their own large date displays, which eventually led Dubois Dépraz to add it to some of their modules for common consumption.
In terms of technology, it is hard to beat the Lange 1 for sheer quality. Günter Blümlein once said that when you strap a Lange to your wrist, you should just about be able to hear the closing of a Mercedes door – and so it is for so many enthusiasts of German watches out there. Quality is the name of Lange’s game, and this begins with the untreated German silver plates and bridges and doesn’t even nearly end with the fact that each movement is assembled twice before it is encased. ED